What If I Don't Call the Police After A Car Accident?
You've Been In A Car Accident
If you’re seriously injured in a car accident, you know that you shouldn’t hesitate to call 9-1-1. But, what should you do if there wasn’t much damage to your vehicle and you’re feeling sore, but you’re not in very much pain? Perhaps, the at-fault driver has admitted that he was wrong and he’s offered to pay for the property damage to your vehicle. Should you still call 9-1-1?
Yes, you should absolutely call 9-1-1. Even if you don’t think that you need an ambulance, you should still call 9-1-1 so that they dispatch a police officer to investigate the collision and prepare an accident report. The police officer’s accident report is a very important piece of evidence that you’re going to need in order for the insurance company to process your claim – even if you initially think that you’re only going to make a property damage claim.
We urge you to contact a car accident lawyer if you’ve been injured in an auto accident. In most cases, your attorney will need to review the police report before agreeing to represent you. The police report contains important information about how the collision occurred, where the collision occurred, how many people were involved in the collision, how to locate the at-fault driver, and whether the at-fault driver was insured.
If you haven’t yet obtained a copy of the police report, an attorney will order a copy of it and discuss all of the officer’s findings with you. Then, they will prepare a strategy to help you recover fair compensation for your losses.
What Do I Do if the At-Fault Driver Suggests That We Don’t Call The Police?
If the at-fault driver suggests that you shouldn’t call 9-1-1, that is a major red flag. The driver is not making that suggestion to save you from trouble. He is making that suggestion to save himself from trouble.
If the at-fault driver doesn’t want the police to show up, it may mean that there is a warrant out for his arrest. He might be driving on a suspended license. He might be driving while intoxicated. If you don’t call the police officer, none of that information will be evaluated. The presence of any one of those factors could significantly enhance the value of your case.
On the rare occasion that the at-fault driver is making that suggestion to you in good faith, it’s still not a good idea to avoid calling the police. Why? Because if you do decide to file an insurance claim, you don’t have most of the documentation that you need to prove your claim.
Every few weeks, we get a call from a potential client that goes like this:
“Hello, I need to hire an attorney. I was involved in a car accident a few months ago. The collision impact was severe, but there wasn’t much damage to my vehicle or the other vehicle. Right after the collision, I felt sore, but I wasn’t in much pain. The driver of the vehicle that hit my vehicle said that he was sorry for causing the wreck. He and I were both in a hurry to get to work. He suggested that we just exchange insurance information so that we didn’t have to wait for the cop and we could each get to work on time. I thought that was a good idea, so I agreed. I set up an insurance claim using the information that he gave me. Initially, I just planned to get my vehicle’s property damage fixed. The repair would probably only cost a couple hundred dollars. But, a few weeks later, I started to have really bad back pain. I’ve been going to an orthopedic doctor ever since. After the doctor reviewed my MRI films, he said that I need back surgery. I told the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier that I now planned to ask for money for my surgery and they told me that they’re denying liability. What do I do?”
That potential client might still be able to recover full compensation for his losses, but it will be an uphill battle. If there wasn’t an independent eyewitness, the insurance company will contend that it’s a “he said/she said” case where no one can tell who is telling the truth and who isn’t telling the truth. If no one else heard the at-fault driver accept fault, he knows that he can usually change his story without repercussions.
If the at-fault driver didn’t provide his correct insurance information and our client has to pursue the claim through his own insurance carrier, his carrier might contend that he staged the accident if he can’t identify the other vehicle and there is relatively little property damage.
All that the potential client had to do was take 10 seconds to dial 9-1-1 and request that they dispatch a police officer. The police officer would have collected the at-fault driver’s insurance information, the at-fault driver’s contact information, he might have administered a breathalyzer exam or field sobriety test to the at-fault driver, he might have taken photos of the vehicles, he might have recorded a statement from the at-fault driver that could be used against that driver later on if he denied liability, and the officer might have issued one or more traffic citations against the at-fault driver. All of that information would have been very useful once that potential client filed an insurance claim.
Let that potential client’s mistake be a lesson to you. Make the call.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Sometimes, our potential clients do call 9-1-1, but the at-fault driver leaves the collision scene before the police officer arrives. That’s unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the world. For instance, if our client made note of the at-fault driver’s license plate, the police officer can usually track down the vehicle and arrest the driver. We will work hand in hand with the police officer to help him locate the at-fault driver.
Even if the at-fault driver cannot be located, if you purchased uninsured motorist coverage, you can still pursue a claim for compensation through your own insurance carrier. That is considered a “no fault” claim, meaning that your insurer cannot penalize you by raising your insurance premiums if you make that claim. If you have any questions about your legal options following a car accident, you should contact an attorney.
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